This family-run hotel in small Cycladic Island Folegandros is built on the very edge of a steep vertical cliff, boasting 360 degree views of the sea and sunset. Danai’s father Dimitris Patelis first intended on using the hotel property to build a summer home. As a contractor, he was able to envision the great potential of the fantastic location when he visited Folegandros one year on holiday. However, he and his family decided they must share this special place with others.
“It’s been twenty-one years since the first day we opened and that view never ceases to amaze me,” says co-owner of Anemomilos Apartments Danai Patelis.
Anemomilos Apartments opened in 1993 after three difficult and challenging years of construction. With the lack of hardware stores and qualified excavators, most of the large rocks had to be removed with dynamite. Patelis lived and breathed the development of the hotel on-site, participating and overseeing each step of the process.
Danai and her brother Andreas now co-own and run the hotel together along with their parents Dimitri and Cornelia.
Anemomilos Apartments studios offer spacious accommodation and sea views. There is also a luxurious suite at the most prime location of the property, with a panoramic view of the sea, sunset, and Hora village. The guest-only pool is open all day, along with the Bar/Restaurant serving cocktails as well as freshly made food with local produce.
Folegandros is often overlooked in favor of more high profile Cycladic islands such as Paros, Santorini, and Mykonos. Yet the island is exquisitely beautiful. This year, CNN listed Folegandros’ Hora village as one of the seven most beautiful villages in all of Europe. Maxim Magazine listed the island’s Katergo beach is one of the most beautiful beaches in the world. Huffington Post listed Folegandros as one of Europe’s most beautiful undiscovered destinations.
Residents mostly consider the island’s less touristic appeal as a blessing. “Tradition is savored,” Danai says. Because the tourism industry did not boom in Folegandros as it did in nearby islands in the 70s and 80s, there are no remnants of overly large hotels, neon lights, and plastic chairs. “The true beauty of the real experience is respected. New, stricter laws about architecture, building permits, and sustainable development in general ensure that everything that is new should comply with the norms of tradition.”
Many celebrities visit Folegandros due to its secluded nature and unique beauty. Danai declines to share certain guest’s names in order to respect their privacy, but confirms that many notable writers, musicians, philosophers, journalists, actors, and ship-owners have stayed at Anemomilos through the years.
There are several off-the-radar treasures on the island, even for regular visitors. Danai suggests Livadaki Beach which is small, but the water is crystal clear and the snorkeling is “a must.” Also, the rural setting of Ano Meria is worth a visit for its stunning landscape. If someone really wants to get off the grid and find seclusion, they can follow the road to the small settlement of Petoussis where the rocky mountains eventually lead to open and flat plains. One can explore St. Nicholas church which is the last remnant from an old abandoned monastery to explore the cells, the old cookhouse with a stone oven, and the courtyard with lovely views.
Danai recommends a visit to the Ecology and Folk Museum in Ano Meria. It requires no entrance fee and offers an authentic example of how farms were run by families in the past. The front door, for example, is a perfect model of the traditional “themonia” farm in Folegandros. The surrounding areas display the fields where products were cultivated, along with a vineyard, and a garden.
“This family-run hotel in small Cycladic Island Folegandros is built on the very edge of a steep vertical cliff, boasting 360 degree views of the sea and sunset.”
She also suggests taking boat tours around the island, which exposes visitors to many remote and idyllic beaches. Hikers have a wealth of routes and tours to choose from as well. Danai says, “Hundreds of footpaths cross the island, making it a hiker’s paradise.” Folegandros Dive Center is another great option for those who want to explore underwater life.
High season in the summer is best for those traveling with children, because all of the facilities on the island are running. Hikers will enjoy the mild weather in May. June and September are less busy months and cater to those who are looking for an especially peaceful experience on the island.
Danai and her family make it their business not just to introduce the wonders of Folegandros with their guests, but to personally ensure that they truly enjoy each moment of their stay. She is quite sentimental about guest experiences at the hotel. One in particular sticks out in her mind of a couple staying in their suite who got married in a church up the hill from Anemomilos. “The morning right after the wedding night, a small stubborn cactus springing up from a dry piece of rock just at the entrance of the suite had produced an amazing flower!” This particular cactus produces only one flower per year, and stays alive for only one day. “We thought it to be such an incredible, good omen for them! By nightfall the flower had faded, but nine months later…there came a beautiful Folegandrian baby!”
Danai says, “Anemomilos is not just a family business; It is our family…we’ve all grown along with the hotel. What I love about this place is what everyone loves about family…It’s so hard to put into words. There is a non-tangible feeling of love, respect, and awe of the many ways that something you know so well, keeps surprising you in beautiful ways…”